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13 Best Free Financial Planning Tools To Get Your Cash on Track Fast

13 Best Free Financial Planning Tools To Get Your Cash on Track Fast
Amy Boyington Feb 22, 2018
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

Ready to get your financial ball rolling? If so, these incredible financial planning tools can help.

It’s not always easy to make wise money choices on your own. Sometimes, a little bit of help from a professional financial planner can make a world of difference in helping you understand where you currently are financially and how to reach your future goals.

Unfortunately, we all know that affording a financial planner can be a problem. But, thanks to various online tools and apps that are 100% free, there’s no excuse for anyone not to be on the fast track toward a bright financial future.

These free tools will help you every step of the way, from realizing the kind of money situation you’re currently in to helping you figure out how to push past your debt, fix your credit, and spend wisely so that you can have a more secure future.

1. Best for Tracking Your Credit: Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame is the place to go if you want to stay on top of your credit score and report. Unlike some services that your credit card may offer that require a monthly fee, Credit Sesame is completely free to use.

You’ll get things like:

  • Free credit score
  • Free score monitoring (what things are actively affecting your score)
  • Identity theft protection
  • Credit and loan management
  • Graphs that help put your finances in check
  • Financial comparisons with your peers

You can also use the Credit Sesame mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, to keep up with your finances wherever you go.

This is especially helpful when you’re away from a computer but get an alert about a possible security breach to your credit report. Check it on the go and get things squared away faster to prevent a huge hit to your credit.

There are some paid options that you can elect in the future if you want more detailed monitoring, like daily credit score updates and 24/7 professional support.

You can read our full Credit Sesame review for more information about how it all works.

2. Best for Using Credit Responsibly: Debitize

Debitize is a free app that basically teaches you how to use your credit cards in the smartest ways possible. It turns the way that your credit cards work into a debit card function instead so that you’re not as tempted to overspend.

Credit cards can create big problems if you continuously spend more than what you can pay off every month. That spending leads to high interest which can be challenging to pay off.

Debitize takes the money from your credit card purchases directly out of your bank account, like a debit card would so that you have a better idea of what you’re spending. Then, it pays your bill for you on your chosen date, so you don’t forget to do so.

On a positive note, you’ll still reap the rewards from your credit cards because you’re still using them. So, keep your cash bonuses, travel rewards, and other point rewards you’d get from your credit card, while still being financially savvy and spending within your means.

You can read our full Debitize review here.

3. Best for Making Small Amounts Add Up: Acorns

Acorns is an app that makes it super convenient for anyone to save money. The app, available for iOS and Android devices, lets you connect your debit and credit cards you use to make purchases most frequently.

From there, it rounds up your purchases to the next whole dollar and keeps the spare change in your investing account.

Acorns automatically invests your spare change in stocks and bonds, giving you a diversified portfolio with a good chance of growth and limited risk. You don’t even have to know a thing about investing because the app does it all for you.

You can also set up automatic savings payments to really put this app on autopilot. If you’re looking for a painless way to save, Acorns is it. You probably won’t even notice that you’re saving as your spare change adds up.

It’s such a small tweak to your spending style, but one that will be a good investment in your future.

4. Best for Saving Money on Monthly Expenses: Trim

Trim is an app for people who often sign up for monthly subscriptions they forget to use, spending money on things they don’t really need.

Trim can help you get rid of the subscriptions you don’t use to cut your monthly expenses by tracking your purchases and expenses through your bank accounts.

All you have to do is send Trim a text saying that you allow it to cancel a bill or subscription for you. Then, Trim does the hard work so you don’t have to deal with hard negotiators making you feel bad for canceling or spending hours looking for a contact number.

Additionally, Trim will negotiate bills on your behalf so that you can save money on everything from your internet and cable bills to your car insurance premium.

Trim’s bank-level encryption keeps your connected accounts safe while the app basically puts your monthly savings on autopilot.

5. Best for Filing Receipts and Income: Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is an app that helps you save everything you need for tax time so that you don’t have to scour your filing cabinets to find your paperwork.

This is an especially helpful tool for people who own a business or have a lot of work-related expenses because you can do things like scan receipts to file and track your mileage with your phone to upload to your Shoeboxed account.

The best thing about this is all your scanned receipts can go straight to the IRS at tax time, so you can get every penny for a deduction that you deserve. Everything remains safely in your account, so there’s less stress on you when you go to do your taxes.

And, Shoeboxed will even organize your receipts for you using smart technology that can categorize your purchases, saving you time and ensuring that you can always pull up something quickly when you need to.

6. Best for Tracking Student Loan Debt: Student Loan Hero

Student loan debt is creating a hole that young people spend their lives trying to dig out of, solely for trying to better their lives through education. Make Lemonade says that, in the United States alone, there is about $1.4 trillion of student loan debt.

Student Loan Hero can help you make sense of your student loans so that you can pay them off faster.

Personally, one of the most confusing things about student loans was having them services by different providers and trying to keep track of their amounts and payments. This site combats all of that confusing stuff.

Student Loan Hero has tons of tools to help you get your loans refinanced or find private student loans, personal loans, credit cards, and more that can help you get your debt paid off faster.

You’ll also find quizzes that can help you understand whether you’re eligible to refinance and if it’s the best option for you and what type of repayment plan might be best for your situation.

If you have student loans, check here first. There’s a wealth of information to help you get out of the seemingly never-ending hole faster than you would going it alone.

7. Best for Planning Your Retirement: My Social Security

A 2016 GoBankingRates survey found that 34% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Another 35% have less than $1,000 saved. Those numbers aren’t making the future look very hopeful.

Although anyone who’s worked and paid into their Social Security fund will have that money waiting for them for retirement, it probably won’t be enough to cover your bills every month.

You should consider getting a jump-start on your retirement savings now, so you’ll be better prepared for the future.

My Social Security, a website made by the Social Security Administration, can help you with that. This free site offers several tools for you to learn about retirement and how much you should plan to save now to reach your retirement goals.

You can also sign up for an account to see how much you have paid in so far and receive an estimated amount per month that you’ll receive upon retirement.

From there, you can figure out how much more you’d like to have every month, which will give you a baseline figure to know how much you should be saving now.

8. Best for Auto-Investing When You Have Basic Knowledge: Stash

Stash is another auto-investment app like Acorns, although it doesn’t round up your purchases to the nearest dollar.

With this app, which is also available in iTunes and Google Play, you’re responsible for adding money to your account, or you can also set up an auto-save program that does it for you by connecting your bank account and setting up a schedule.

You can start with $5 added to your account and add as much or as little as you want from there.

Stash makes it easy for beginners to learn what investments are best for them, but it’s a good idea to at least have some basic knowledge of investing so you’ll know a little bit about where your money goes.

You can also use the helpful tools within the app to find investments that can best meet your needs for your current and future financial goals. Your answers will match you up with popular strategies that are working for people in your current situation with similar goals.

Stash also has a Business version that can help employees save for their future. It’s something you might want to suggest to your boss if your job doesn’t currently offer retirement savings.

9. Best for Making Over Your Spending Habits: PocketGuard

PocketGuard is a free tool that can help you see where your money goes and how you might be able to tweak your spending habits to not be so stretched financially.

You can connect your bank and credit card accounts to PocketGuard, an app that’s available on the App Store and Google Play, and the app will create a budget for you based on the money you have available and the bills you have to pay.

It’s a hands-off approach to budgeting for those who have a difficult time creating and sticking to one. But, more than that, it shows you what you spend your money on the most so that you can learn how your spending habits are affecting your overall financial health.

PocketGuard also has an especially helpful feature for people who love to save money. The app will find deals for you, based on your current bills, like lowering your cell phone bill using current promotions from the company.

The app continuously monitors your bills and what you pay and will let you know when it finds a better deal for you.

10. Best for Staying on Budget: Mint

Mint has been one of my favorite financial tools for years now.

This handy app is like an overall manager for your money, helping to keep you on a budget, letting you see how you’re spending your money the most, showing you your updated credit scare, and even reminding you to pay your bills.

You’ll never need a personal accountant when you have Mint.

You can connect your bank and credit card accounts for Mint to analyze and take a snapshot of what you spend your money on by placing your purchases in categories.

Connect your monthly billed accounts (electric, cable, insurance, etc.) to get reminders about when they need to be paid – or pay them directly through Mint.

Once you have everything synced, you can tweak your budget using Mint to create something you can stick to in the future. Read more about Mint here to learn about all of the app’s helpful features.

11. Best for Bill Reminders and Payments: Prism

Do you just want an app that can simplify your billing process every month? If so, then Prism is your best bet. This app for iOS, Android, and other devices makes paying your bills a breeze.

Connect your accounts for all your monthly bills to get access to them in one convenient spot. No more spending hours on the weekend logging into your accounts to pay bills – it’s all saved in the Prism app.

Prism also sends reminders to pay your bills so there’s minimal chance you’ll ever forget that one is due. When it’s time to pay, visit the app and pay your bills there.

Prism stores your account information in a secure cloud, so you won’t have to worry about any sensitive information getting compromised.

Bonus: Helpful Financial Calculators

I thought I’d also add a couple of helpful financial calculators that I use to help plan my current and future finances.

After all, it’s difficult to create goals if you don’t have an accurate picture of how your finances are now and how they could be in the future without some tweaking in your spending.

12. CalcXML’s Net Worth Calculator

Before you start with any financial planning tools, I suggest getting an accurate picture of what you currently have between your cash on hand, bank accounts, debts, and assets.

Doing so will let help you form your budget and understand what kind of goals you should set for yourself in the future.

The Net Worth Calculator by CalcXML can do that all for you. Plug in information about your home, vehicles, real estate you own, jewelry, and any other valuables you have.

You can also enter information about your investments and savings accounts. Then, add any debts you have, like a home mortgage, student loans, or credit card debt.

The calculator will work its magic and tell you your current net worth and an estimate of your future net worth using the current growth rates as a guide.

13. Financial Mentor’s Debt Snowball Calculator

If you’re following Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball method for getting rid of your debt fast, the Debt Snowball Calculator by Financial Mentor can be such a huge help.

This method focuses on battling your debt hard by paying off the lowest debt first and putting that payment toward the next highest, and so on, until you’re free and clear.

With the calculator, you add all the debts you have, from credit cards to vehicle loans, their interest rates, your payment amounts, and how many months you have left to pay.

The calculator will then tell you about how long you can expect to have your debt paid off in full and how much you’ll save in interest once you get them paid off using this method.

Final Thoughts

The free financial tools in this list can take a lot of weight off your shoulders when it comes to planning your present and future finances. Since they’re free, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of them.

The best part? Even the apps that have premium versions offer enough in their free versions to give you a good start toward planning your budget and making over your spending.

We want to hear your thoughts! Have you tried any of these tools? Which ones are your favorites? Are there any others you use regularly? Let us know in a comment!

Amy Boyington

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